U.S. Cellular to launch LTE network in March

The North American carrier U.S. Cellular has announced that it will launch its LTE network in March, along with accompanying LTE ready devices. The network which will be launched in conjunction with its build partner King Street Wireless, was originally meant to come online by the end of 2011, but no specific reason has been given for the delay.

U.S. Cellular said that the 700MHz network, which it will brand as 4G LTE, will initially cover 25 per cent of its customers and includes cities in Iowa, Wisconsin, Maine, North Carolina, Texas and Oklahoma. It will be the first carrier to bring LTE to some of these areas. Details of further expansion were not provided, but in a statement the carrier said there would be a, “next wave of market launches… announced later this month.”

The devices customers will be able to choose from are the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 4G LTE tablet, and the Samsung Galaxy Aviator 4G LTE smartphone, both Google Android powered.

Mary N. Dillon, president and CEO of U.S. Cellular talked up the customer service benefits of the network over rivals in a statement, saying that, “This 4G LTE network builds upon our industry-leading network satisfaction and is the only one that comes with a valuable rewards program and other unique benefits like Overage Protection and Battery Swap that make our customers the happiest in wireless.”

U.S. Cellular is one of the smaller tier operators in the US, with just 1.77 per cent of the market according to Informa WCIS statistics. While its customers are able to use their smartphones outside of their home territories thanks to roaming agreements with the larger carriers, LTE roaming is not possible at present due to device incompatibilities between the bands used by each of the carriers, an issue that is currently being debated by the US regulator, the FCC.

The LTE Middle East and North Africa conference will take place on the 29th-30th April, Westin Mina Seyali, Dubai, UAE. Go to the website to register your interest.

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